Ever wanted to know just what was going on inside someone’s head? Or why you can’t seem to shake that intense disgust of green vegies despite the evidence that they’re good for you? Brittany Smith knows those feels and so does Inside Out, the movie that seems to have all the answers.
Pixar has never stayed away from feeling the feels. Over the years we’ve grown to love toys, cried with them when they sang about the days when somebody loved them and finally bawled our eyes out when their owner grew up. We’ve loudly proclaimed how a three-minute montage about two childhood friends getting married, growing old together, and one of them dying was so much better than Twilight. Pixar has hit us right in the feels over and over again – from lovable monsters to lonely robots, a rat with a passion for cooking to disabled clown fish. Hell, we’ve grown up with their constant bombardment of emotional manipulation and loved every second of it. But now, in 2015, they’ve gone one step further. They’ve made us feel things about feelings.
Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, follows the story of eleven year old Riley as her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. Pixar shows us not just into Riley’s world but into her mind where the emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger control things up in headquarters. Without revealing too much of the plot, Joy and Sadness end up getting a bit lost outside of headquarters which leaves Fear, Disgust and Anger running Riley’s every move.
The film can teach you a lot, and not just the deep and meaningful lessons which were present throughout. You’ll learn why cats have a tendency to jump around suddenly and sporadically (hint: it’s because the cat emotions in their head walked carelessly across the panel board). You’ll find out what really happened to your childhood imaginary friend (and cry immediately). But, as with most Pixar movies, there are bigger ideas to understand.
Inside Out was heartfelt and genuine but I thought it went one step further than most children’s films. When I watch something by Disney or Pixar I normally see the “top deck” approach to emotions. It’s what author Lisa Shanahan explained in My Big Birkett – when you’re a kid things are either happy or sad, like top deck chocolate. You have the two extremes and they don’t mix. But once you get older and mature you experience life like marbled chocolate. Terribly sad things happen at the same time that joyous events occur and you can be scared and miserable and feel incredibly blessed all at once. Kinda like what Taylor Swift sang in 22, you’ll end up being “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”
The idea that in order to function as a human you need all these nuanced emotions working together, is what makes Inside Out so spectacular. You can’t just be happy. It simply isn’t a thing. Remember all those 18th birthday parties where you maybe drank too much and danced a little too wildly? Good times, right? Well that season of 18ths was also right before the HSC so chances are you had a good time but at the back of your mind you were also scared shitless about those final exams. That’s how adult emotions are. Inside Out shows that Joy just doesn’t work so well on her own.
To be frank, the character Joy is kinda really annoying. Like those peppy people at The Colour Run who shout fake encouragement even though you have 3km left and would prefer to use your last burst of energy to punch someone in the face. Or like Charli from Hi-Five. No one is that happy, Charli, not when they’re lacking the cool puppet side-kicks that Kathleen and Kellie had.
Sadness is important, and not just in the movie but in real life. As Amy Poehler, who voiced Joy said in a press conference in London, “sadness can be your friend… it can help you.” You can’t keep pushing your feelings to the side and then expect them to magically disappear one day. To really adult successfully you have to accept sadness, get to know it, and look at it from all its different angles. Once you know sadness and indulge in it, then you know how to combat it. That’s when your Joy-Sadness balance can start to look and feel a little better.
Even further than that, sadness is how we empathise with people and practise that all-important being-a-good-person life skill. If you’d never been sad then how would you know to treat people with tenderness? You wouldn’t know how to limit the damage you do to others because you’d have no experience of being hurt yourself.
Inside Out is one of those movies that I think will hit home for a lot of people. Then again, that might just be me because I identify with FEELING ALL THE FEELS REALLY STRONGLY ALL THE TIME. We all have those crappy periods and probably there will be plenty more to come in our lives but it’s comforting to think when those shit times strike that it’s just cause Joy got a little lost. I mean, she’s not always the sharpest tool in the shed - it happens. But it’s nice to think that eventually, at some point, Joy will find her way back. Then you can continue feeling that confusing array of emotions all over again.
By Brittany Smith